KYUK AM

The Plan For When Gillnets Can Return To The Lower Kuskokwim

Jun 30, 2020

Fishermen use a gillnet to target salmon in the Kuskokwim River near Napaskiak during a subsistence fishing opening on June 12, 2018.
Credit Katie Basile / KYUK

The lower Kuskokwim River will remain closed to gillnets until more red and chum salmon arrive. King salmon numbers are low, but are expected meet the lower end of the state’s Kuskokwim River drainagewide spawning escapement goal. Meanwhile, the chum and red salmon are running late and just starting to pick up at Bethel. Managers want to see more salmon passing Bethel before allowing gillnets to return to the lower mainstem of the river.

Federal managers control the lower Kuskokwim River until Wednesday, July 1. Then the state takes jurisdiction over the king salmon run.

State biologist Nick Smith plans to keep the Kuskokwim mainstem below the Kalskag Bluffs closed to gillnets until the Bethel test fishery indicates that the number of red and chum salmon outnumber kings 10 to 1 for three consecutive days.

Meanwhile, the lower Kuskokwim River below the Kalskag Bluffs would remain open to rod and reel, dip nets, beach seines, and fish wheels. Also, the non-spawning salmon tributaries would remain open to gillnets 100 yards upstream from their confluence with the Kuskokwim River.

The Kuskokwim Salmon Management Working Group passed a motion on June 29 supporting Smith’s management plan.